How to Write a Critical Analysis Essay

Literature and art are meant to create joy and wonder in people. However, a critical analyzation helps us delve deeper and find meaning and a greater image behind the words. An essay of this sort provides an evaluation of the work of another author. The analyzed work can include poetry, prose, plays or even a film. It can be exciting to take on such a task yet it doesn’t mean that it holds no challenges. Now that we know what is a critical analysis essay, we can move on to explore the details of writing one.

Why is a critical analysis useful?

Before moving on to some tips, lets focus on what can a student achieve by writing a critical analysis essay. It basically develops critical thinking in the writer and enhances skills of analyzing and keen observation. Furthermore, it improves your writing style and builds vocabulary. With the background complete, it is time to know how to write a critical analysis essay step by step.

How to start a critical analysis paper?

The beginning of a critical essay can be pretty complicated. It must have the right tone straight from the first paragraph. This has a great effect on the impression caused by the entirety of your work. There are three basic things you must know to write a successful critical analysis.

Identify the main idea

Every literary piece has what we call a thesis or its main idea. The thesis might not always be clarified by the writer. In order to identify it you will need to reread the work several times to find the message.

Outline the presented thesis

There is only one major thesis upon which a literary work is based on. Yet there are several smaller ideas that support this main thesis. They are just as important so do not undermine them. If you are unable to find them, then look more closely at the core theme. It will eventually lead you to understand the connected ideas that have helped develop the plot.

Evaluate points made by the author

Once you have figured out what the main plot and its supporting themes are you can move on to the criticizing part. This is where you have to judge whether the author has been successful in getting the message across or not. Explore every part and evaluate how effective it is. Also examine if the writer’s style is objective or is it easy to decipher the opinion they hold regarding the thesis.

Writing process of a critical analysis essay

There are several aspects that must be paid careful attention during writing a critical analysis. We have a complete overview that will lead you to write an essay that is worth admiration.

Outlining the paper

Most essay types have a typical format which includes an introduction, body and a conclusion. However, when it comes to writing a critical analysis, the layout is vastly different. It requires implementing a structure comprising of four paragraphs. The following is the basic outline of a critical essay:

  • Introduction
  • Summary
  • Analysis
  • Conclusion

Now we will look further into each of these elements.


Begin the introduction by giving the details about the literary work. This includes information about its publishing and how it was received by the public and critics. Then continue on to the main thesis and the ideas used by the author throughout the piece.

The introduction will conclude with your own thesis statement. It offers your point of view on the writing and how successful the author was in conveying his intended message. Make sure that your thesis is not identical to the author’s, as this will leave no room for analysis.


While writing a critical analysis, be aware that not all reader will know about the literature you are analyzing. Hence a summary is necessary. It will encompass the characters, events and ideas mentioned in the work. Giving your audience a comprehensive overview ensures that they will read the rest of your paper.


As it must be obvious, the analysis is the core of this essay. This can take up several paragraphs. Each will be shedding light on the ideas that support the main plot or theme. This type of essay does not need you to be neutral. You are allowed to strongly express your views, either positive or negative. There are three aspects which you need to pay attention to during analyzing:

  • Ethos: the credibility of the writer.
  • Pathos: emotional impact of the writing.
  • Logos: the way logic is implemented within it.

Support each of the ideas you put forward, with reliable evidence. You can add quotes from the work itself. Including analysis of other critics is also a good way to show different views about the outlined themes.


The conclusive paragraphs will sum up all the ideas you presented in the rest of the essay. Round it off by offering your own opinion about the success of the writing and how it benefits the audience.

Further tips

It is important to have a good command of language and phrases when you write a critical analysis. Your essay should be formally written, however the ideas your present should be original and display intellect. Voice your opinions clearly to let the readers know what you think about the author’s work. Dissect the literary devices used and they will reveal to you any ideas that might not be clear from the start.


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